Self Improvement 20: Sleep More
You have to get enough sleep!
There are a ton of reasons why you should sleep as much as you need. For example:
- Sleeping makes you learn better.
- Maybe you want to lose some extra pounds?
- Five hours of sleep decreases testosterone.
- Too little sleep makes you sick.
- Not enough sleep makes you emotionally unstable.
- No sleep make you less alert.
- Not sleeping will degrade your performance.
I will give you an overview why you need to sleep more and 17 tips you can implement to improve your sleep quality.
Here’s the science why you should sleep more!
Enough sleep is the key to your well-being. Sleeping replenishes your health and mind giving you the energy to deal with the physical and emotional activities of the day. Your willpower is at it’s highest levels shortly after you wake up. I collected some of the scientific research findings that will tell you in no uncertain terms to “Go to bed!”
Sleeping makes you learn better.
If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice. But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better. Dr. David Rapoport, an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center
Maybe you want to lose some extra pounds?
Cutting back on sleep, a behavior that is ubiquitous in modern society, appears to compromise efforts to lose fat through dieting. In our study, it reduced fat loss by 55 percent. Plamen Penev, MD, Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago
Life is something to do when you can’t get to sleep – Fran Lebowitz
Do you want to be THE MAN? Go to sleep
Five hours of sleep decreased their testosterone levels by 10 percent to 15 percent. The young men had the lowest testosterone levels in the afternoons on their sleep restricted days, between 2 pm and 10 pm. Eve Van Cauter, Ph.D., professor of medicine
Van Cauter laboratory has published several studies about the metabolic and hormonal consequences of sleep loss. These results suggest you might want to sleep more:
- Study showing that a significant sleep debt could trigger metabolic and endocrine changes that are similar to many of the hallmarks of aging (1999).
- Study found that inadequate sleep could foster insulin-resistance, a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes (2001).
- Study indicating that sleep deprivation could slow the response to vaccination, suggesting that sleep loss could reduce the ability to fight off an infection.
Too little sleep makes you sick.
Sleep deprivation has a direct impact on health. Our immune system just cannot work at the optimal level without sufficient hours of sleep. Nancy Baker, the associate director of Harvard University Health Services
Not enough sleep makes you emotionally unstable.
When students are functioning on only three hours of sleep, they will often experience extreme mood swings and impaired judgment. Elizabeth Kensinger, a professor in the Harvard psychology department
Sleep is the best meditation – Dalai Lama
No sleep make you less alert.
First and foremost, total sleep deprivation impairs attention and working memory, but it also affects other functions, such as long-term memory and decision-making. Partial sleep deprivation is found to influence attention, especially vigilance. Paula Alhola and Päivi Polo-Kantola
Not sleeping will degrade your performance.
After 17-19 hours without sleep, corresponding to 2230 and 0100, performance on some tests was equivalent or worse than that at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05%. Response speeds were up to 50% slower for some tests and accuracy measures were significantly poorer than at this level of alcohol. After longer periods without sleep, performance reached levels equivalent to the maximum alcohol dose given to subjects (BAC of 0.1%). A Williamson and A. Feyer
Sleep deprivation is like an illness, it’ll make your performance lower, and sometimes you don’t even understand what’s happening. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 30 percent of adults in the United States sleep less than six hours on average. Not enough sleep has huge consequences.
Figure 2. Prevalence of Short Sleep Duration (<7 hours) for Adults Aged ≥ 18 Years, by County, United States, 2014
How to get people to sleep more
- Healthcare providers should routinely assess patients’ sleep patterns and discuss sleep-related problems such as snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Healthcare providers should also educate patients about the importance of sleep to their health.
- Individuals should make getting enough sleep a priority and practice good sleep habits.
- Employers can consider adjusting work schedules to allow their workers time to get enough sleep.
- Employers can also educate their shift workers about how to improve their sleep.
Are you getting enough sleep?
|Age Group||Recommended Hours of Sleep Per Day1,2|
|Infant||4-12 months||12-16 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|Toddler||1-2 years||11-14 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|Pre-school||3-5 years||10-13 hours per 24 hours (including naps)|
|School Age||6-12 years||9-12 hours per 24 hours|
|Teen||13-18 years||8-10 hours per 24 hours|
|Adult||18-60 years||7 or more hours per night|
You should get 7 to 9 hour of sleep every night. No excuses. Sleep more to make your life better. When you sleep less, your performance will be lower, and that negates the extra hours you gain by depriving yourself of sleep. What time do you have to get up? Subtract a minimum of 8 hours and get to bed at that time. If you have to get up at 7 AM, you need to go to sleep at 11 PM. Although, you should sleep more then waking up early also improves your life.
What if you can’t sleep?
If you are one of those unfortunate people who have problems sleeping, then you should make fix it. Sleeping is so important that before you attempt any other willpower feats fix your sleeping pattern.
I know some people who have to resort to sleeping pills often or even daily. Sleeping pills are not an optimal solution. Science shows that there’s a difference between being knocked out by pills and natural sleep.
Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together – Thomas Dekker
17 Tips How to Sleep Better
Here are top tips that help you get to sleep faster and sleep more in general. If after implementing these tips you still lack sleep, then you might what to consult a medical professional.
1. Switch off
Digital screens can make your brain think it’s still daytime, and it should bounce around endlessly. Take some time to get away from your gadgets and stop watching TV. Turn everything of an hour or at least 30 minutes before your bedtime. Put away all the items that emit light in your bedroom or cover them if you can’t turn them off.
2. Dim the lights
Turn off the more intense light sources in your home 2 or 3 hours before you want to go to sleep. When you read before you go to sleep then use a low-intensity light.
3. Silence is golden
It depends on where you live but try to get the ambient sound level in your bedroom as low as possible. Consider the noise levels when you are buying or renting a home. In the case of too much noise where you can’t remove it use the earplugs.
4. Be cool
Find the right temperature for your bedroom. Experiment with the room temperature. Lower temperatures are usually better for bedroom and sleeping. Try 64 to 70F (18 to 20C) range. In some cases, air conditioning may be noisy, and you have to choose between a cooler or quieter room.
Melatonin helps you sleep, and in animals, it’s produced in the darkness. Make your bedroom dark. Get special blinders if your neighborhood has a lot of street lights or other light pollution. Turn of all the glowing and illuminated items in your bedroom.
As a medicine, melatonin is used to treat insomnia; One review found onset of sleep occurred 6 minutes faster with use but found no change in total time asleep. Insomnia: Pharmacologic Therapy
6. Sleep and sex only
Make your bedroom a sleep and sex room – Avoid doing anything else in your bedroom. Anything means:
- No watching TV in the bedroom
- Remove the TV from the bedroom
- No phones and computers in bed
The bedroom is for sleep and sex. And books. For example, if you can’t sleep for some time, get up and read in another room. Then come back. The bedroom is for sleeping.
7. No dogs, cats, alligators
People sleep in people beds, pets sleep in their own beds. When pets sleep in your bed and move around at night, then this may cut your sleep short. Of course, this is also true about human companions, but you would probably like to keep the current arrangement.
8. Don’t look at the time
Do not have a visible clock on your nightstand. Usually, it emits light. When you look at your phone, then you will be almost blinded. Just don’t do it. It’s better to leave the phone in the other room anyway.
Tired minds don’t plan well. Sleep first, plan later – Walter Reisch
9. Build a regular sleeping schedule
Train your body to follow the daily rhythm and go to bed every day at the same time. Set your alarm at the same time every day. During the period when you are training your brain, the new schedule then wake up at the same time even on weekends. You can allow some variety after you have built a solid sleeping habit.
10. Create a power down routine
Try to get all the noise out of your head. Work and life problems that you focus on may create mental noise that you can’t shut down easily. It may take special steps to quiet the voice in your head. Writing down what you have to do the next day may help to get some closure for the day. Meditate, yoga, take a warm bath, and listen to relaxing music. You may want to start your winding down 2 or 3 hours before bedtime but even 10 or 20 minutes of relaxing will help.
11. No caffeine
No caffeine 6 hours before bedtime – You can have your coffee in the morning. Have as much as you want, but stop 8 to 10 hours before your bedtime. If you want to go to sleep at 11PM then you should have your last cup of coffee no later than 4PM. And even that seems a bit too late. 3PMish maybe.
12. No alcohol
Don’t drink alcohol before bed – alcohol acts as a stimulant. When you drink before going to bed, you will have a lower quality of sleep. You may also wake up at night more often than usual. As you are trying to fix your sleeping habit, you should not drink at all. At least cut it to a minimum.
13. No smoking
No smoking before bed – nicotine like alcohol and caffeine is a stimulant. You don’t have to quit smoking but leave an hour or two between your last cigarette and sleep time. Quitting smoking is one of the best willpower exercises, and it comes with a ton of other benefits. So, if you can quit smoking.
Though sleep is called our best friend, it is a friend who often keeps us waiting! – Jules Verne
Eating and drinking
14. Don’t eat just before bedtime
Try to finish all your eating and snacking at least an hour before you go to bed. Avoid foods that take a long time to digest. For example, you can have an apple an hour before bedtime.
15. Don’t drink a lot before bed
Avoid large quantities of any drinks before you go to sleep. Half a glass of water is OK, but if you drink more, you might wake up for the bathroom. After that, it may be hard to get back to sleep.
Other tricks that may help
16. No naps
Try not to sleep during daytime. Yes, there are power naps that can energize you if you are tired, but you will do it at the expense of your night’s sleep. If you get really tired, go for a walk, drink ice water, or call a friend. You can walk while talking to a friend on the phone and sipping ice water from the bottle.
Working out will help you sleep better. I already mentioned walking. Walking is all you need, but if you do something more active then aim to complete your workout session at least 3 hours before bedtime.
How to implement these tips in your life
Some of the suggestions above are easier to follow than others. Think about it and decide on at least 3 things that you can do to improve the quality of your sleep. After you have created those habits, take another 3 and continue until you reach 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.
Now, go to bed on time today.
Image: RD & KD BFF by Kevin Dooley